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The Sensible Home

Two Approaches for Squeak-Free Floors


Question: We are adding a room on to our house and we do not want squeaky floors, which we have in the rest of the house. Is engineered lumber a good choice for efficiency too, and how can we stop existing squeaks?

Answer: You cannot beat engineered lumber for a quality house or room addition. If your existing house had been built with it, you would not have a single squeaky floor year-round. The stability of engineered lumber also makes a house energy efficient by minimizing settling and air infiltration.

First, take care of the existing squeaky floors. Squeaks are often caused by the sub-flooring's not being securely attached to the floor joists. This is often more noticeable in the winter, when dryness causes the wood to shrink.

There are several effective "stop-squeak" kits that take only several minutes to install. All of them are designed to tighten the sub-flooring to the joists below. Some kits can be used through the carpeting from above.

Inspect your floor to find where the squeaky problem areas are. If they are over a basement or crawl space with an unfinished ceiling, your job is simple. Have someone walk on the squeaky area and place your hand on a joist and adjacent sub-flooring from below. You will feel any movement.

One kit design uses a small aluminum block with two screw holes in it. It is placed against the joist and the sub-flooring and then screwed into both. This draws them tightly together to stop the squeak. It is even supplied with two different diameter holes and screws to make it "idiot-proof."

Another under-floor design attaches to the sub-flooring by an anchor plate with a screw hanging down. A bracket is attached to the joist. As a nut is tightened on the screw, the joist and sub-flooring are drawn together.

If you do not have access beneath the floor, select a kit that installs from above without damaging the carpet. A small alignment tool drives a screw through the carpet and sub-flooring into the joist. Using the gripper slot on the tool, you snap off the special screw flush with the flooring.

Among types of engineered lumber for squeak-free support are I-joists, laminated veneer lumber and glulams. These use many thin plies of lumber, bonded together, to create strong and stable support beams. Premium-grade glulams are also often used as decorative exposed beams.

Wood I-joists are ideal for floors and ceilings. These use a narrow vertical web between two strong laminated veneer flanges. For a given size, I-joists are several times stronger than dimensional lumber. Their strength allows for openness and few supporting walls, ideal for passive solar heating.


Write for (or instantly download at Update Bulletin No. 962, a buyer's guide of 12 manufacturers of do-it-yourself stop-squeak kits and engineered lumber showing installation instructions, specifications, sizes, features and prices. Please include $3 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope and mail to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

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